Why D2,D3, NAIA are a good choice

by Philip MacDonald | Last updated

Is your goal to play college soccer?  If so, what level?  Is your long term goal to play in the MLS?  Whatever your goal may be, do not look past division 2, division 3 or NAIA soccer.  There is still plenty of talent and competition within those divisions to greatly improve your soccer skills and knowledge of the game which can help you achieve the goal of playing at a higher level and eventually the MLS.

From College to the MLS

Use college as a stepping stone to play in a better league at a later point in your career.  This could be the PDL (professional development league) or the USL – which has divisions 1 and 2.  The MLS is constantly scouting and recruiting players from the USL.  They are looking for grown men with a lot of playing experience behind them.  Rarely do young players jump from the college ranks straight into the MLS.  There are always exceptions but this does not apply to the majority.  In fact, most players that make it to the MLS don’t take the “normal” route you may think.

Selection your college division

Don’t think the only way you can make it to the MLS is by playing division 1 soccer.  Sure this would greatly improve your chances but the path to the MLS is often more complicated than that.  If you play at one of the top twenty schools in the states then your chances of being drafted in the MLS draft will greatly increase compared to playing D2, D3 or NAIA.  However, there are other routes you can take to play in the MLS.

I would argue that getting four years experience of college soccer in say division 2 and then going around trying out for MLS clubs is and could be a better route to taking that next step.  I am not talking about open tryouts (which you can do) but more selective and taking part in invitational tryouts.  This is where the team is actually interested in your from the beginning.  All this takes is knowing the right people.  Use those years in college to meet as many people in soccer who are well connected.  This includes at the college level, former players, alumni and people you meet in the off season.

The reality of most MLS teams is their rosters are like revolving doors.  Players come and go each season.  The league is so young and the youth system aren’t producing players for the senior team that the clubs truly don’t have an identity or players that the fans can relate to.  What this means is that nobody’s spot is guaranteed.  Therefore, play where you can receive the best playing experience and learn the most you possibly can in those early years of your career.

Remember that no matter the division you chose to play your college soccer, you can always move up if you chose so at a later date.  More importantly play where you will receive the most playing experience which should ultimately turn into a better experience.  After all, players can only learn so much while watching on the bench.

2 Responses to “Why D2,D3, NAIA are a good choice

  • Chengez Ali Hussaini
    12 months ago

    Wonderful advice and encouragement. So if one were to invite scouts to one’s own school to witness players’ performance on the field, how can one contact scouts from the USL or the MLS?
    I appreciate the information.

  • A lot of student-athletes start off at NJCAA, NAIA and NCAA Division 2 and if they perform on the field AND in the classroom, they are able to transfer.

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